The just-finished American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of
Money in Rosemont, Ill., was nearly universally praised by dealers as
a rousing success, buttressed by a steady rise in gold prices, a huge
bourse floor and a very successful official auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ various sessions spanned six separate
catalogs. The more than 9,000 lots offered realized slightly more than
$40 million, including nearly $30 million in U.S. coins. When combined
with the $31 million Heritage auction held before the convention, the
auctions offered more than 16,000 lots that sold for more than $71
million in total.
The Aug. 18 Stack’s Bowers Rarities Night catalog introduction
called it “a candidate for one of the most memorable sales of our
era.” While that statement may inspire debate, the session — designed
to compete with Heritage Auction’s Platinum Night sale — offered a
diverse group of coins that was the subject of innovative marketing
including video reviews of auction highlights by grading service
leaders David Hall and Mark Salzberg.
Floor and telephone bidding was notably quiet during the session —
perhaps more so than at other recent major auctions — a further sign
that collectors and dealers are increasingly turning to the Internet
to make their bids.
The fierce competition between Heritage and Stack’s Bowers to fill
their August auctions brought more coins to auction than the total
offered at the auctions immediately before and during the 2010 ANA
convention. The 2010 total results was $60 million.
Several dealers lamented during the show that they found fewer
buying opportunities on the bourse floor because so many of the coins
were in the auctions, yet many dealers took advantage of auction
opportunities to add coins to their inventories and lot viewing was
The Dick Osburn Collection of Seated Liberty half dollars led
Rarities Night, and all but a handful of the 152 half dollars sold.
Top lots included an 1855-S Seated Liberty, With Arrows half dollar
graded Mint State 67 that realized $115,000 and an 1878-S Seated
Liberty half dollar in MS-63 that brought $184,000.
Not all coins at auction are reserved for the super-rich, as dozens
of quality half dollars in the Osburn Collection were offered without
reserve and sold for less than $2,000. ■